Sunday, September 05, 2010

Is Stuttering Cool?

Recently a friend sent me a suggestion to "like" something on Facebook. It's a group called Stuttering Is Cool and from what I have read, it is at least partly about stuttering freely and even advertising that you have a stutter. Supposedly, for some, this takes the edge off of the stuttering dilemma, because now there is no pressure to talk like you think others think you should talk. You can just be yourself and the people that you are speaking to...can expect the stutter.

The problem I have with this is personal and in no way is being published here to malign that group or to oppose the work they are doing. It is just my opinion.

Firstly, I don't think that stuttering is cool. There. I said it. It's not cool. It sucks...and I won't pretend that it does anything else. I think that stuttering sucks in the same way that a dart to the head probably sucks. What if you had a foot that will sometimes step right where you want it to...but on numerous and often occasions, it steps completely in the wrong place? Would that be cool? What if the hand holding your fork only made it successfully to your mouth 3 out of 5 times? Would that be cool? What if your eyes failed you more often than they assisted you? Or your hearing? Or your legs? Would that be cool?

No. That would certainly not be cool. That would suck. And it would suck hard.

What is cool is that I have successfully developed avoidance techniques that help me to avoid stuttering...and they are successful to the point that most people who don't spend a lot of time with me, do not know that I stutter. "But, Tony, why would you care what strangers think of you?"

Good question! Well...not really. I don't care what they think of me. I care about how my stuttering makes ME feel. Not them. If I am ever on the phone with my son and I find fluency to be fleeting and I stutter through our conversation (my techniques don't work much on the phone), I become frustrated and my son always tries to help by saying something he thinks is helpful...like, "Dad, it doesn't bother me!" What he doesn't realize is that I'm not frustrated because I think I am bothering him--it's not about him--it's about ME. I am frustrated because I can't do what most of the world can do without thinking about it: TALK.

I understand what Stuttering Is Cool is trying to do...and I think it's a worthy cause. They are taking the sting out of stuttering by putting it out front and talking about it. They are turning it around to make it something positive instead of something negative. They are psychologically disarming the stutter so that it's no longer an enemy....but a friend.

But, I don't want stuttering to be my friend. If it were my friend, it would let me talk. I don't have a single friend out there who would purposely trip me or push me down or lock up my mouth so that I can't say three words in a row without elevated anxiety levels. That's not a friend. That's an enemy...and a diabolical one who deserves to have shit-balls launched at his head.

My avoidance techniques...or "tricks" as I refer to them...are my friends. They allow me to be confident in most situations. They help me to sound like I want to sound. They support my desire to feel good about myself and they also help me to do so. That sounds more like a friend to me.

I know there will be comments from those who support advertising our stutter...I'm just not of those people. It's just not for me. My son was born with a club foot. He had five surgeries...one a year for the first five years of his life. The deformity has been corrected and he can pretty much walk like anyone else, but he also has to wear a lift in his shoe so that he doesn't have a limp. The lift enables him to APPEAR like everyone else in the walking community.

That's what my tricks do for me. They make it so I can sound like everyone else who can speak without really thinking about it. Is that so wrong? Is it wrong to want to sound and feel like everyone else? If so, leave a comment. I will consider it. And...as usual...thanks for reading. :)

15 comments:

Zen said...

I am a stutter from Portugal. I was looking for news about stuttering on the web when I found your blog. Im 31, so I too have alot of tricks to avoid stuttering, they work for 1 year,2,3,4 years at the most, and then they stop working.I have a son, and i just hate when im talking to him, and i start to stutter. I guess it means to me that i can never be is hero. I understand your opinion, but i do not share it. The stuttering IS NOT my friend, but hiding it is futile, it just makes it stronger. If you think about it, it doesnt hurt you, you are hurt because of what you think that others think of you. It is your ego that is hurt. I think I stutter not because its genetic, not because i have some problem with my brain, but because i fear to stutter, fear is feeding it. The day i really stop fearing stutter ( and all that it implies in my mind) is the day i stop stuttering. I believe this. I just dont know how to do it, how to drop this mindset. How to see the reality as it really is, and not as society or culture made me see it.
I like your blog, i know what you are talking about. sorry for my poor speeling. Best regards

Stuttering Stanley said...

Thank you, Zen! While we probably won't agree on everything, I value your opinion and input and your perspective. Hiding my stutter does not make it stronger...for me, anyway. I do hope that if you one day stop fearing your stutter, your stutter will go away. I don't have a lot of confidence that is true, but one can hope, I suppose. For me, freely stuttering would harm me in my vocation, even if I wanted to do it, so I wouldn't anyway. The way I handle my stutter is the best way for me. Be well and may all good things come to you! :)

The Crow said...

Very well written, and very well said.
I don't agree with you, but then I also don't agree that stuttering is anything remotely close to cool, whatever cool is.
I enjoy your blog.
You are humorous in the way that I am. So nobody will understand your humor :)
Nice one!

Oh and by the way: I suddenly became completely fluent, at age 57.
Haha :)

The Crow said...

Zen: great comment.
Touching, insightful, honest and wise. Your name says it all.
Ego, thus fear, is our biggest enemy.
When we accept ourselves as someone we like and admire, anything is possible.
I find taoism fulfills me.
I speak fluently now.
Like you will, too.

Stuttering Stanley said...

Thanks for your many comments today on my blog entries. I did read one of your entries, about how you overcame stuttering and how you advise others to do the same. The last line you spoke of is profound. "We want it too much. and that is the very thing that prevents us from getting it."

Very nice.

The Crow said...

Thanks to you too Stanley.
Hehe...would you take offense to being called SS? You don't have to say.
You can deal with your affliction, and that is as good, possibly better, than no longer having it.
Very excellent!
I had the devil of a job dealing with mine.
Here's another profound line:
It is the effort we put into trying to speak, that prevents us from being able to.
No effort is required.
None.

Great to meet you :)

Stuttering Stanley said...

No, I wouldn't take offense. I like the name, actually. :) You are correct, it's the effort that creates the problem, it seems. It's a conundrum. A catch 22. The ghost in the machine. What I find so frustrating is...if ever there are times that I am fluent, then I have the capacity to ALWAYS be fluent. I just have to find out the the common denominator. Such a task! Nice meeting you, as well. :)

Rebecca said...

I tried mental tricks for a while, but it only worked until my mind got used to it and then the stutter got worse. I would have to agree, stuttering is NOT cool.

MzHBrown said...

I am 24 years old and I have stuttered all of my life, as far as I can remember anyway. What are the types of tricks you use to hide your stuttering.

Rebecca said...

I always tried tricks, but they only worked until my mind got used to them, and then my stuttering was worse. Check out stuttering.org. I went there and attended their program three years ago and I haven't stuttered since.

Stuttering Stanley said...

Rebecca, how expensive is the program? I am interested, but I have heard it's upwards of $10,000...and that is very pricey. Do they change your natural speaking rate and manner? I would have difficulty learning a new way to talk. My manner of speaking is very much my own and I would have a hard time abandoning it. I'd love to hear more insight from you! In fact, if you sent me an email about it, I would feature it as an entry about the program you attended! (If you're interested)

Rebecca said...

Sure! I'll write up an email. :)

Stuttering Stanley said...

Awesome!

Rebecca said...

Where do I find your email address without making you post it? I can't figure out all the techy stuff with the pop-up email.

Stuttering Stanley said...

Oh, it's public. sign543@gmail.com